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Stupidest Column Of The Week Award Goes To... Thomas Friedman Again


Worst idea of the week? month? year?

Thank you Liz Cheney, for standing up against fascism. The rest of your career-- from soup to nuts (and that is mostly nuts)-- is every bit as bad as anyone could imagine. I hope you're reelected in the reddest and most ignorant, bigoted state in the Union, but that's just to give Trump a heart attack. Your voting record is a low "F" and everything you vote for has always made peoples' lives worse. And I know as well as everyone else that you have about the same chance of being sworn in as the Congress member from Wyoming next January as Dennis Kucinich does.


Friedman is generally a laughing stock and a boob to begin with, but in his Tuesday NY Times column he floated the idea of a Biden-Cheney ticket for 2024. To begin with, Biden is the oldest president in history and probably won't even run again. But if he did and win, Cheney would be a heartbeat away from the presidency. Cheney would be the most conservative president in history-- and the most hawkish and truculent, Great idea! And where does he get this idea? "Answer: It’s the most diverse national unity government in Israel’s history, one that stretches from Jewish settlers on the right all the way to an Israeli-Arab Islamist party and super-liberals on the left. Most important, it’s holding together, getting stuff done and muting the hyperpolarization that was making Israel ungovernable."


But it isn't just Biden-Cheney that would do the trick. He has a whole slew of conservatives he would love to see running the country: Joe Biden and Lisa Murkowski, or Kamala Harris and Mitt Romney, or Stacey Abrams and Liz Cheney, or Amy Klobuchar and Liz Cheney. (I know, Stacey Abrams isn't a conservative and I'm surprised too to have seen Friedman throw her into his toxic brew.) He wants to share his brain fart with Steven Levitsky, a political scientist and co-author of How Democracies Die.


America is facing an existential moment, Levitsky told me, noting that the Republican Party has shown that it isn’t committed any longer to playing by democratic rules, leaving the United States uniquely threatened among Western democracies.
That all means two things, he continued. First, this Trump-cult version of the GOP must never be able to retake the White House. Since Trump has made embracing the Big Lie-- that the 2020 election was a fraud-- a prerequisite for being in the Trump GOP, his entire cabinet most likely would be people who denied, or worked to overturn, Biden’s election victory. There is no reason to believe they would cede power the next time.
“In a democracy,” Levitsky said, “parties lose popularity and they lose elections. That is normal. But a democracy cannot afford for this Republican Party to win again because they have demonstrated a ton of evidence that they are no longer committed to the democratic rules of the game.”
So Biden-Cheney is not such a crazy idea? I asked.
“Not at all,” said Levitsky. “We should be ready to talk about Liz Cheney as part of a blow-your-mind Israeli-style fusion coalition with Democrats. It is a coalition that says: ‘There is only one overriding goal right now-- that is saving our democratic system.’”
That brings us to the second point. Saving a democratic system requires huge political sacrifice, added Levitsky. “It means AOC campaigning for Liz Cheney” and it means Liz Cheney “putting on the shelf” many policy goals she and other Republicans cherish. “But that is what it takes, and if you don’t do it, just look back and see why democracy collapsed in countries like Germany, Spain and Chile. The democratic forces there should have done it, but they didn’t.”
To put it differently, this Trump-cult version of the GOP is trying to gain power through an election, but it’s trying to increase its odds of winning by gaming the system in battleground states. America’s small-d democrats need to counter those moves and increase their odds of winning. The best way to do that is by creating a broad national unity vehicle that enables more Republicans to leave the Trump cult-- without having to just become big-D Democrats. We all have to be small-d democrats now, or we won’t have a system to be big-D or big-R anythings.
That is what civic-minded Israeli elites did when they created a broad national unity coalition whose main mission was to make the basic functions of government work again and safeguard the integrity of Israel’s democracy.
Such a vehicle in America, said Levitsky, should “be able to shave a small but decisive fraction of Republican votes away from Trump.” In a tight race, it would take only 5 or 10 percent of Republicans leaving Trump to assure victory. And that is what matters.
This is the democratic way of defeating a threat to democracy. Not doing it is how democracies die. I am quite aware that it is highly unlikely; America does not have the flexibility of a parliamentary, proportional-representation system, like Israel’s, and there is no modern precedent for such a cross-party ticket. And yet, I still think it is worth raising. There is no precedent for how close we’re coming to an unraveling of our democracy, either.
As Levitsky put it: “If we treat this as a normal election, our democracy stands a coin flip’s chance of survival. Those are odds that I don’t want to run. We need to communicate to the public and the establishment that this is not a normal donkeys-versus-elephants election. This is democracy versus authoritarians.”
This is not for the long term, noted Levitsky: “I want to get back as quickly as possible to where I can disagree with Liz Cheney on every policy issue”-- and that is the most we have to worry about-- “but not until our democracy is safe.”

In other words: embrace conservatism and all the poison that goes with or the Nazis will kill us all. How about, instead, Mr. Friedman, embrace progressivism and all that goes with or the Nazis will kill us all? Did that even ever cross your mind? Or only progressives need to make sacrifices and progressive ideas are terrible anyway, is that the point? I feel sorry for poor Levitsky being dragged into your terrible idea.

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